Thanks to my friend James for this insightful and humorous piece! James is a father of three and I’m excited to bring a new voice to the blog.
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Wait, not you… your spouse! Please forgive me, Mila Kunis.
Your spouse is pregnant. You might be wondering, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW and the good news is you have time to figure it out. Pregnancy books! Pregnancy websites! Birth classes? Or… none of the above. Your baby will most likely grow and be born no matter what you do. Is that at all comforting?
You might be wondering, what colour are we going to paint the nursery? Is my kid going to look like me? Is my kid going to like me? How many strollers are too many? Why is baby stuff so expensive? Will I need a second job to pay for all the strollers?
Although most of the focus is on your partner and your mini-me growing inside (as it should be…just do whatever she wants, she deserves it), it’s okay to have your own stuff going on too. Talk with a friend or a counselor if you’re feeling stressed about the unknown. You need to be in top physical and mental shape to support your partner to the finish line of pregnancy and beyond.
Once the initial shock has subsided, what’s going on with your partner? Based on my experience, pregnancy can be broken down into three phases. The doctors call them the first, second and third trimesters but I call them “Sleepy”, “Okay” and “Uncomfortable”. Here’s a summary:
The Sleepy Phase
In all three of my wife’s pregnancies, the first couple of months were spent working, falling asleep, and falling asleep while working. That’s it. She literally couldn’t manage anything else because she was so tired. I spent the same couple of months worried that something was wrong. Why is she so sleepy? Is this baby sucking the life out of her?
Answers: the fatigue is probably normal (her doctor or midwife will fill her in) and YES the baby is sucking the life out of her but it’s only temporary. I’m not a scientist but it helps me to picture what’s happening inside: she’s creating a baby out of nothing. NOTHING! I made a desk once, out of wood. I got the materials from Home Depot and I worked on it on and off for about a month. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Your partner took a tiny piece of your DNA and is making a PERSON out of it. 24/7, no breaks. Just take care of everything and let her sleep.
I’ve heard from friends that for some women, The Sleepy Phase is replaced by The Sick Phase; regardless, your job is the same. Just do everything for both of you while she builds a human.
The Okay Phase
This is the fun part.
Generally, this phase is full of excitement as by now you’re probably sharing baby news with family and friends and doing some preliminary planning. Your partner may or may not be bombarding you with baby information on everything from the size of the baby, which during pregnancy is based on comparable produce (I still don’t know what a papaya looks like, for the record) all the way up to where the baby will go to kindergarten. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, just support and show interest in whatever she likes.
Oh, and also kicks! Those are fun too, the first sign of baby saying HI!
Any lingering sickness, food aversions or fatigue should be accommodated. She’ll start putting on some weight as the baby grows; keep the comments to a minimum and don’t answer any questions directly related to clothes that no longer fit. Side note: watch your eating habits to avoid a baby belly of your own. Take it from me, sympathy weight gain is REAL.
The Uncomfortable Phase
So close, yet so far. All you have left to prepare are last minute additions in the nursery, the quickly expanding baby wardrobe and the arsenal of baby gear. You can’t picture it now, but all of those beautiful items and places will soon be desecrated by your new bundle of joy and alllll the flying puke and poop.
Your partner might start to feel like – please note these are her words, not mine – “a geriatric elephant”. Although she looks as beautiful as ever to you, the glow and wonder of pregnancy that began in The Sleepy Phase and continued into The Okay Phase has likely faded. She’s carrying around a watermelon under her shirt and may or may not be bumping it into things like doors, countertops and small children.
In the last few weeks, people will ask constantly if the baby has arrived yet. Count how many times your family, friends, and awkward co-workers tell you something like, “You know what you can do to get the baby out? The same thing you did to get the baby in” . . .followed by *wink wink*. I shudder. But seriously, count how many times. Maybe you can make a drinking game out of it. No wait scratch that, no drinking games…you should definitely be sober when your spouse goes into labour. This is perhaps the most important piece of information I’ve shared with you today.
There you have it, the three phases. Simple, right? Before you know it, you’ll get the call that labour has started and baby is on the way and unlock a whole new level: CHILDBIRTH.